Howie Hawkins, right, toured Maine on Wednesday in support of Lisa Savage, stopping at Dufresne Plaza in Lewiston in the afternoon. From left are Bruce Gagnon of Bath, Lisa Savage and Chris Cayer. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The Green Party’s presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, said 2020 is shaping up to be “a bad year” for his pro-environment, anti-war party.

Though Hawkins is convinced that a growing number of Americans support his agenda, he said many of them won’t vote for him because they don’t want to risk helping President Donald Trump squeeze out a narrow victory over Democrat Joe Biden.

Hawkins, a retired Teamster from New York, said he wishes everyone in the country had the same ranked-choice voting option that Maine does since picking him as a first choice in the Pine Tree State won’t hurt Biden as long as they select the Democrat second.

In Maine, he said, people “can vote for what they want without worrying about their worst enemy.”

Hawkins is one of five presidential candidates on Maine’s Nov. 3 ballot. Trump, Biden, Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and the Alliance Party’s Rocky De La Fuente round out the choices. Only De La Fuente has no chance of winning nationally because he’s on too few states’ ballots to have the slightest shot at emerging with enough electoral votes.

Lisa Savage Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Hawkins said that independent Maine U.S. Senate candidate Lisa Savage is “probably the strongest Senate candidate we’ve got” anywhere in the country.

She is a longtime Green Party activist who opted to run as an independent because election rules made it so hard for her to claim her own party’s line on the ballot. “I’m still a Green in my heart,” Savage said.

Savage said she’s gotten good feedback from the two U.S. Senate debates from viewers who thought she looked like “the only adult in the room” as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Sara Gideon bickered. The other independent, Max Linn, she said, hasn’t treated the contest seriously.

As she discussed the debates, standing in Dufresne Plaza, dogs suddenly began snarling loudly a short distance away.

“Sounds like your debate opponents,” Hawkins told Savage.

Savage said she hopes to be the No. 1 choice on many ballots. She urged supporters to pick Gideon second to ensure Collins isn’t returned to the Senate for a fifth term.

Hawkins said the Greens are pushing for ranked-choice voting everywhere because it would help break the stranglehold Democrats and Republicans have had on the electoral system for generations.

But, he said, no matter what the voting system is, people should pick the candidate whose views most closely match their own.

“If you don’t vote for what you want, you won’t get it,” Hawkins said.

Voters who settle for a mainstream candidate “lose their power” to change the nation’s agenda, he said, since nobody will know they wanted anything different.

Hawkins said it’s time for people to stop “voting against the other party” and start voting for what they want.

Hawkins said if he wins the election, the first thing he would do on taking office is to declare a climate emergency and begin to consolidate federal action to deal with the growing climate crisis caused by carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

He said he would press immediately for a Green New Deal far more detailed than what U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont promoted during the Democratic primary.

The long shot candidate said he would release immigrant detainees, reunite families and speed up the hearing process for refugee claims.

Hawkins said he would free minor drug offenders, drop charges against whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and open the prison door for inmates he considers “political prisoners.”

He said he would quickly reverse nearly every executive order issued by Trump.

In short, Hawkins said, a Green Party win would allow him to tackle a long list of issues his party has raised for decades.

“We’d have a hell of a mandate,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen are on enough state ballots to win the election, at least in theory, though both recognize that the odds are exceedingly small that they’ll triumph.

Hawkins said, though, that because they have a shot at winning, they ought to be included in the presidential debates. He called it “an objective standard, a reasonable standard.”

He said he plans to be in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday evening, where the final debate is slated to occur.

If Trump or Biden “doesn’t show up, I’ll be ready to take his place,” Hawkins said.

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